Almost Lost the Toddler at Kua Bay on Hawaii the Big Island


Warm waters and white sands made for a great morning at Kua Bay

Manini’owali, better known (and easier to say) by the locals as Kua Bay is home to one of the most beautiful white sand beaches on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii. The water is a clear turquoise blue. The sand is perfect for building a stellar sand castle and the waves make for some impressive boogie boarding. Just be careful out there. The undercurrent can get rough, so be aware of what the ocean is telling you.

Chasing Dek out of the ocean while boogie boarders catch some waves behind us

This is a public beach park, so there is opening and closing hours (see Know Before You Go below.) Weekends can get more crowded as the locals come by to relax and do some boogie boarding. If you are traveling with a toddler have no fear. You will certainly be up early enough. Parking is easy if you get there before 10am. Weekdays are quieter as the locals head back to work.

Building sand castles kept Dek happily distracted and entertained while we snuck in some much needed rest and relaxation.

Mike decided this was the beach to hit one Saturday morning. We arrived just as the beach opened.  We steered clear of the boogie boarders that had already taken over the section with rougher waves. We found a spot to the left that was a bit calmer, had a few lava rocks peeking out and a nice patch of sand to start our sand castle construction.

Mike keeps a firm grip on Dek while they head back into the waves

Once the bags were dropped and a beach towel was pinned down, we headed towards the water. Dek couldn’t wait to jump in. This kid has no fear when it comes to water. He and Mike did some wave hopping. When we all came out of the water Mike made the mistake of letting go of Dek’s hand as we walked back up the beach. Dek immediately headed right back towards the ocean. I watched in horror as the water pulled back and Dek ran further in with a wave starting to loom overhead. Mike snatched him up right in time before the wave crashed down. This was the first time the ocean tried to claim Dek. Of course, Dek had no idea. He just wanted more watery fun.

Keep an eye on the birds while you picnic. The ocean isn't the only thing trying to snatch stuff away.

After building a few walls and turrets of our sandcastle, along with a moat and swimming pool, we headed back into the water to cool off. There was no shade on the beach and the sun was burning bright. Mike went out for a swim while Dek and I did some more wave hopping. An insignificant wave hit us, we sputtered and then the undertow took over. Suddenly I lost hold of one of Dek’s arms. I held on for dear life to the other arm as the ocean tried to steal my son from me. I yanked him back out of the water, double checking to make sure I hadn’t just popped his arm out of the socket, and breathed a sigh of relief. Thankfully Mike was directly in front of me coming back from his swim so if I had lost Dek he could have caught him (hopefully.) Still, every worst-case scenario flew through my head in an instant.

Building sand castles and drenching mommy = a great day for all

Mother Nature gave me a not so subtle reminder that she was still in control. It was up to us to take extra care in the water and rough terrain of the island.

The beach can be fun, just be sure to take a few extra precautions.

  • Be aware of the undertow
  • Accompany your child into the water at all times
  • If the waves look rough, proceed with caution. When in doubt, stay out!

Get to the beach early enough and you could almost pretend it was all yours

Know Before You Go:

  • Park is open 9am to 7pm, closed on Wednesdays
  • There is no shade, bring an umbrella and/or loads of sunscreen
  • Restrooms and showers are available
  • Parking fills up quick on the weekend. Get there early.
  • There is no lifeguard. It is up to you to keep your family safe.
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Showing 5 comments
  • More Kids Than Suitcases

    Yikes! Now that’s a scary experience. Glad you guys managed to keep hold of Dek. Did the second wave scare him a little? Or was he still ready to swim to the mainland?

    • Reply

      Totally ready to hit the water again. He thought it was a fun ride. Like his dad swinging him around. I love that kids are clueless, just wish they knew what the word “caution” was sometimes 😉

  • Jessica

    Scary, indeed! Glad everything was okay.

  • Lisa

    I can just imagine how you must have felt in that split second! Water and small kids always make me nervous – they just have no fear at that age. It’s so much easier when they get a bit older and develop a healthy sense of caution.

    Have a Happy Thanksgiving with your family and eat lots of turkey and stuffing and pie! 🙂

  • abackpackabuggyababy

    Wow, that must have been a heart stopping moment. We’re backpacking around SE Asia with our 15 month old son and he loves the sea. If you turn your back for a few seconds he’s toddling towards it without a care in the world. I don’t want him to be fearful of things, but at the same time he has no idea of what’s dangerous. That’s why mums and dads need eyes in the back of their heads! Happy travels.

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